36 designers reveal what they watched, read and listened to in lockdown

From Jean Paul Gaultier to Grace Wales Bonner, we asked our fashion heroes to reveal share their quarantine cultural recommendations

by Osman Ahmed and i-D Staff
07 August 2020, 1:00pm

If there is anything the coronavirus pandemic has been good for, it’s been clearing a little space in that Netflix watch-list, making some headway in the pile of unread books on the bedside table, or just reconnecting with some old literary, musical or cinematic friends. And with a long, slow march towards semi-normal life -- let alone a busy cultural calendar -- still ahead of us, further recommendations for stay-at-home stimulation are always welcome. With that in mind, we caught up with a slew of our fashion heroes and asked them to let us know what books, films, shows and songs have helped get them through lockdown.

Kim Jones
“A book I go back to often and am currently re-reading is Orlando by Virginia Woolf. I discovered the Bloomsbury group as a teenager and loved the way they were all so multidisciplinary and collaborative.”

Amanda Harlech
“Among so much that is inspiring right now, even something very small like a raindrop caught in the centre of a leaf of lady’s mantle, I have found Satyajit Ray’s film The Apu Trilogy seizes all my focus – trying to find meaning from sorrows and returning to nature for the answer.”

Grace Jones
Antonio Lopez, Corey Tippin And Donna Jordan, Saint-tropez, 1970. Photograph by Juan Ramos. © Copyright the estate of Antonio Lopez And Juan Ramos, 2012. From Sex Fashion & Disco Directed By James Crump.

Jeremy Scott
“I love watching documentaries and especially love when it has to do with fashion. Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion & Disco is about one of the best fashion illustrators, who not only created amazing art work but, behind the scenes, was a real creative driving force with some of fashion’s major players. Beyond creating images in illustration and photography, he also created models, and iconic ones at that: Jerry Hall, Grace Jones, Jessica Lange, Tina Chow, Donna Jordan, Pat Cleveland. The film also includes the last interview with photographer and fashion chronicler Bill Cunningham – if you have not seen his documentary Bill Cunningham New York, that is also a must. I would also recommend reading The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake. If you love fashion, you must know its history and what better time to give yourself a history lesson than now!”

Stephen Jones
“If you’re really bored and need something to watch on YouTube, watch Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. If you want to make me blush and cover my eyes in horror, you should watch ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?’ by Culture Club, as you’ll see me in the video. I really think the ultimate music video is ‘Windowlicker’ by Aphex Twin. It blows my mind! It is that amazing combination of funny, dramatic and sexy – the cinematography and the slow-motion scenes are art!”

Molly Goddard
“I love watching old music videos, I can watch them for hours. Some of my favourites: ‘Bootylicious’ by Destiny’s Child, ‘Don’t Tell Me’ by Madonna, ‘Drop’ by The Pharcyde, ‘All I Have’ by Jennifer Lopez ft. LL Cool J, ‘Leave Right Now’ by Will Young, ‘Believe’ by Cher.”

Maria Grazia Chiuri
“I was deeply moved by Portrait of a Lady on Fire by Céline Sciamma during my quarantine. I was happy to find a movie which tells the story of the love between two women in such an innovative and modern way. Besides it being set in a magical and inspiring atmosphere, it is also a political statement. What I found most interesting is the way in which the female director chose to define love as a build-up of desire. It also opens a window into the world of female artists, something which is very close to my identity as a designer.”

Kris Van Assche
“In the evenings, I have taken a lot of pleasure in watching the TV series The Young Pope and The New Pope by Paolo Sorrentino. Aesthetically speaking, they’re sublime, as well as funny, quite controversial and smart. We all know religion is a touchy subject these days but he manages masterfully to treat it both in a respectful and provocative way.”

Manolo Blahnik
“I am in a moment of listening to Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jefferson Airplane, and I have been listening to them simply because they come from another time, another period – a time when I was very young. I am not nostalgic, but you know listening to this music makes me very happy.”

Stella McCartney
“Lee Eastman, my grandfather, was a New Yorker, and he has sadly passed away, but he had an amazing collection of art books which I have in my house and am using this newfound time to immerse myself in. One book I have always really cherished is a book called Picasso Says. What I like very much is some of the quotes: ‘I don’t say everything, but I paint everything’ – that was Picasso on February 21st 1966.”

Giorgio Armani
“I like historical essays, especially those on ancient Rome. It’s a genre that intrigues me and that sometimes has given me ideas and insights for my job. Biographies of the Roman emperor Hadrian and Gianni Agnelli have fascinated me. I'm not a music connoisseur, but I'm an attentive and sometimes enthusiastic listener. Although I have to admit that my preference is always for films – Luchino Visconti’s timeless classic Death in Venice is my favourite.”

Beaut Travail poster

Supriya Lele
“I’d recommend the film Beau Travail, from 1999. I adore Claire Denis, its director. It’s a hypnotic, visually stunning film that focuses on masculinity in a really nuanced and poignant way. The cinematography and the study of bodies is so beautiful.“

Christian Louboutin
“My favourite film is The Witches, a 1960s Italian sketch movie composed of five comic stories directed by Luchino Visconti, Franco Rossi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mauro Bolognini and Vittorio De Sica with Silvana Mangano playing all the women. I’m also re-watching iconic films like Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor, Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel and Shanghai Express as well as Cabaret by Bob Fosse. These are providing a real sense of escapism – they transport you.”

Grace Wales Bonner
Looking for Langston by Isaac Julien. It captures the endless beauty and poetry of the black intellectual.”

Alessandro Michele
“I’ve rediscovered crocheting in quarantine, appreciating the sacredness of manual work. Crocheting is my way of praying. I’m also learning how to play my classic guitar, feeling the connection with my dad’s love for music – a way to be closer to my roots.”

Jean Paul Gaultier
“As a child, I discovered with delight the world of Parisian haute couture with Falbalas by Jacques Becker, starring the beautiful Micheline Presle. It influenced me and triggered my vocation as a designer. Kika by Pedro Almodovar was my first of many collaborations with Pedro Almodovar and Satyricon by Federico Fellini is visually one of the most beautiful movies in cinematic history. I made an homage to it in one segment of my last haute couture show.”

Craig Green
“I've always been a big fan of horror films. The Wicker Man directed by Robin Hardy is my all-time favourite.“

Victoria Beckham
“We have been listening (and dancing) to #clubquarantine by DJ D-Nice. I first met him when he played at a friend's wedding years ago and his virtual club nights on Instagram are everything! It’s so great that he’s doing something so upbeat and uplifting for us all in lockdown.”

Matthew Williams
“I watched Ichi the Killer because it had been recommended by multiple friends over the years and I always loved the images of fashion from the film. I've been listening to Eternal Atake by Lil Uzi Vert: a great album. And I love Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari because it tells us in depth about our origins. I enjoy reading non-fiction.“

Stuart Vevers
“These days, I've been taking comfort in old favourites; vintage Victoria Wood comedy sketches on YouTube, reruns of RuPaul's Drag Race and playing lots of Girls Aloud songs in my kitchen. I've also taken the chance to think about my living space, which I've never spent as much time in as I do now, and have subscribed to The World of Interiors and Architectural Digest for ideas.”

Christopher Kane
“I remember watching Lord of the Flies, the film by Harry Hook, as a child and being blown away by its utter brutality and subversion. I watch it at least six times a year and it always unsettles me in a good way. It’s the ultimate survival film.”

Zoe Latta
“I've been weaving, which has felt incredibly meditative. If you don’t have a floor loom there are many DIY life hacks to make one out of stuff around the house on YouTube. And I've (reluctantly) been listening to the Dixie Chicks. I don't know why? They've just been stuck in my head and I've never really had a Dixie Chicks phase in my life so I'm going to let it happen now.”

Matty Bovan
“I recommend Defying Gravity, the book by Jordan (of Westwood/punk fame). It’s a really interesting behind-the-scenes illustration of so many iconic images and stories. Also, I watched the film Arcadia, from 2017, which is a super inspiring mash-up of Britain and its cultural melting pot. It’s so great!”

fruits magazine spread
FRUiTS Harajuku Freestyle Issue 2, via Archive.org

Stefan Cooke
“One of our favourite web resources easily accessed from home is Archive.org, a free library of millions of titles and a website we have both been using since our early teens. One magazine in particular that we often go back to is Shoichi Aoki's cult street-style magazine, FRUiTS. It is pretty much world renowned as a key source of inspiration throughout fashion and it is amazing to have roughly 50 of the original magazines available to view from home. We can spend hours browsing and find new things every time we look back on them.”

Massimo Giorgetti
“I am currently re-exploring François Ozon’s amazing filmography. His cinema is clever, unpredictable, sophisticated, refreshing. It’s a collection of masterpieces: it’s brave and crazy, raw, cruel and wicked, but beautiful and dreamy. My personal picks: Criminal Lovers, Water Drops on Burning Rocks and Young & Beautiful.”

Sofia Prantera
“I left Italy a long time ago, but most of my family is still there. At this time, I’m finding myself looking nostalgically at my creative upbringing. Witnessing all our factories finding ways of working and surviving despite the adversity has been very moving, and has reminded me that we are a chaotic but very resourceful nation. One of my favourite films is The House with Laughing Windows by Pupi Avati. He’s one of Italy’s most respected film directors, but not as well known internationally for horror, which makes his contribution to this genre even more interesting and disturbing.”

Isabel Marant
“The playlist I imagined with Ariel Wizman for my SS20 show: ‘Populous’ by Umi; ‘OI WAKKA’ by Afro Bros; ‘Ninos Alegres (Sabo Quik Edit)’ by Sabo and Angy Dee; ‘A1. Samba Imperiale (Original Mix)’ by Discodromo & Massimiliano Pagliara; ‘Bumbum Granada’ by MCs Zaac & Jerry; ‘Do The Nasty Dance’ by The Dogs feat. Disco Rick; ‘Along Came Polly’ by Rebuke; ‘Avalon (Original Mix)’ by &ME.”

Michael Halpern
“I actually have five favourite films to watch when I want to get in the mood and go into fantasy land: Madam Satan by Cecil B. DeMille; My Fair Lady by George Cukor; Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand; Interstellar by Christopher Nolan; Contact starring Jodie Foster. I love all of these films so much and, to all of my friends’ dismay, I watch them constantly. I know it is quite a random bunch of films but they all allow us access to the world of the heroines in a way that a lot of other films don't. These women use their fashion, humour, gumption and glory to allow us all to take a little respite from the scary world we live in.”

“True Homosexual Experiences (Boyd McDonald and Straight to Hell) by William E. Jones is about the true story of Harvard educated Boyd McDonald, who gave up a career writing for Time and Forbes, in order to publish his raunchy "Straight to Hell" chapbooks from a tiny hotel room in New York. I found his story so inspiring — after years of trying to conform (and progressive alcoholism), he quit the booze, pawned his suits, went on welfare, and basically started his life all over again, doing what he loved: publishing joyful unapologetic gay smut.”

Léa Dickely
“Movies are even more meaningful to me than music; a movie is like a bubble of the imagination, a world that you can reach, a journey. Sometimes it feels like music is more a background, a beat that follows the day, but to me film is stepping into an entire world. Recently I’ve been particularly touched by Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Hung and I watched both at the beginning of the quarantine period and it felt reassuring; they touch upon this place – perhaps a place from childhood – that you know won’t go away.”

Charles Jeffrey
_“‘_LIFE BEYOND: CHAPTER 1. Alien life, deep time, and our place in cosmic history’ on YouTube artfully combines found audio and video footage to push the narrative of the science of life and ideas of existence and time and space. It’s a great way to put things, like this virus, into perspective, and also great to sink into after a couple of glasses of wine.”

Haider Ackermann
“I started rereading Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. All those remarkable responses Rilke – a sensitive observer in a harsh world – wrote to a young poet offers the questioning of love, solitude, sadness and doubts. Though written from 1903 to 1908, the endless questioning still resonates today.”

Maryam Nassir Zadeh
“The Quiet Earth by Geoff Murphy. I think the concept relates to the times we are in, as we all woke up recently to a different and unknown world. Despite the way things look from one day to another, we need to find a way to move forward. Unexpectedness is an intrinsic part of life. Finding people and falling in love at a time when companionship is most meaningful shows us the importance of human connection, and how far it can go.”

Casey Cadwallader
“The documentary Fantastic Fungi by Louie Schwartzberg. The film is visually fascinating and inspiring. And also it taught me that fungi and trees talk to each other! I am in awe of what we are just discovering about nature.”

“Vivienne Westwood’s 1982 Punkature show is one we go back to again and again and was one that helped inspire us to form Vaquera. It is the perfect union of design, chaos and positivity.”

kuch kuch hota hai

Priya Ahluwalia
“One of my all-time favourite films is Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, a 1998 Bollywood film. I think I've watched it about 100 times since it came out. If you have never watched a Bollywood film, it’s a great one to start with: funny, beautiful and emotional.”

Diane Von Furstenberg
“These are a few of my favourite books about the journey of life and survival: The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off! Thoughts on Life, Love, and Rebellion by Gloria Steinem; The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel; The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates; Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky ; More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth.”